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Q: How can I get the recommended amount of vitamin D in cold weather?

Posted October 01, 2014 in Advice Column, Johnston

A: Vitamin D has been an increasingly popular topic due to its ability to aid in the absorption of calcium into the bone and regulating blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. In doing so, vitamin D may also have the ability to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure and some cancers.

There are two forms of this vitamin that relate to us: vitamin D2, which comes from plant sources and vitamin D3, which is formed by human skin when exposed to sunlight. Natural forms of vitamin D are the flesh of fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, fish liver oils and small amounts are found in cheese and egg yolks. Mushrooms that are harvested in a controlled environment can also be a source of vitamin D. Other foods that are fortified with vitamin D include milk, orange juice, cereal, yogurt and margarine.

Many factors affect your ability to attain vitamin D from sunlight exposure including season, time of day, cloud cover, skin pigment content and sunscreen. Researchers suggest “approximately 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis.”

Information provided by Missy Anker, Registered Dietitian, Hy-Vee, 5750 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, 270-9045.

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